Interview by Caroline Alegado | Submitted by Anneliese Martin Nomination and Photography by Annie Drake Texas
The Nomination: Annie Martin-At 17 years old and during Annie’s senior year she began to develop back pains. She was a soccer player up until her sophomore year and due to four concussions she was obligated to give up the sport. She got a job and at work she began to get back aches so bad that Annie would be physically sick by the end of the night. I remember photographing her in October of 2017 and she will hold her shoulders up constantly—I had no idea she was in so much pain. After various tests by a medical professional, she was referred to a surgeon because she had two slipped disks between L4-L5 and L5 and S1, and one was hitting a nerve. She has also developed a minor case of drop foot as her leg wasn’t strong enough to pick her foot up when she walked as well as a case of muscle atrophy in her left leg. By December, Annie found she had developed nerve damage and arthritis in her back. She was in constant pain and an emergency first dose of cortisone was injected in her spine. Annie felt better and resumed her normal activities and work. Two days after work she had a relapse and lost all feeling from her waist down. She was back at hospital, where they helped her regain the feeling in her back and legs by injecting second dose of cortisone. After consulting with a neurosurgeon, surgery was scheduled for Spring Break of her senior year. The surgery went very well, and the recovery process was very painful because to get to her spine they had to move some of her muscles out of the way. Annie was in bed rest for two weeks and had to wear a back brace. Prom was right around the corner and she was so upset she might have to miss prom, but fortunately she recovered and had an incredible senior prom with her friends. Not only she went to prom, she graduated with excellent grades. In this image, she is wearing her prom dress at the lake—her idea to "trash" the prom dress!
What was it like to give up soccer? I had been playing soccer since I was 5 and was in such a conditioned routine that coming out of it was not easy for me. Saying bye to my teammates that I saw 3 times a week and all weekend for games, tournaments and traveling for out of states tournaments was certainly a tough time.
What advice do you have for other teens with injuries? The advice I’d give to teens with injuries is to remember how important your body is, and it is growing, and it is so important to take care of it. For me it was easy to procrastinate and try and neglect what was going on for the sake of staying in sports or not taking time off my daily routine. So, understanding that this will only be a moment in your life and risking your health now, is not worth compromising your health in the long run.
Did your medical challenges impact your choice to become a nurse? That experience certainly helped push my drive to become a nurse and not give up on my dream of becoming one. The staff that took care of me when I was in the hospital was outstanding, even post-surgery they would call and check in and make sure everything was going smoothly. I hope for my future I could work in a hospital like that someday or even work at that hospital.
How did your injuries and then brace impact your everyday life? For me I am a very active person and am not one to sit still so physically it was a big change. The recovery was pretty brutal and being told for the rest of my life I would always have pain and that I just had to learn to manage the pain was discouraging. Knowing I had to be very consciences of my back in whatever I do was a hard thing to come to grasps with even to this day but knowing the hard work and sacrifices that got put in to fixing my back keeps me going to take the best care of it.
Who inspired you through your journey? My dad and I had connected on a different level and was an absolute rock through the whole experience. He really stepped up and helped me make sure I landed back on my feet with all his support as well as my surgeon Dr. Kosmoski who I cannot thank enough for all he did.
How did you have faith through such hard times? Through the whole thing clinging to my faith and understanding that this was a trail I needed to go through for whatever the reason was helped me keep going. Having faith that God would get me through this moment in my life was something that kept me pretty level headed especially when I lost feelings in my legs and just knowing things were going to be okay because it was part of a bigger plan than I had for myself. Also having the support of my church friends and family and everyone saying prayers and making sure I was okay was just something that really created a home front through everything.
Anneliese will be featured in Issue 16, coming soon!